As summer is rolling around and the day’s are heating up so is the concrete we walk on, we may not notice due to the shoes we wear but go bare-foot and you’ll notice the significant heat difference. Our dog’s paws feel the difference too, their pads only provide so much protection before it becomes painful. We don’t walk across a hot parking lot or a snow covered one without proper protection on our feet, but for some reason some owner’s make their pets suffer.
The paw pad provides protection for the paw from rough terrain, but there is a myriad of issues surrounding the paw that should be addressed including nail length, cracked pads and foreign objects wedged in between paw pads.
If your dog’s nails are click, click, click, clicking when they walk then it is definitely time they should be clipped. The proper length of the nail should just barely skim the ground, I keep George’s short so I don’t hear clicking at all on the hardwoods at home. I trim them myself, and have done so ever since he as a puppy so he’s pretty good about it. But if you feel uncomfortable or anxious doing it yourself, veterinary clinics and dog grooming centers can do it for you. I know the grooming centers around me only charge $10 per dog.
When trimming their nails, the hair between the pads needs to be trimmed as well. If the length exceeds the end of the pads it needs to be trimmed back to be closer to the actual paw. I call this fur the ‘paw feathers’, George has naturally short feathers, but Ginny had long ones that I use to trim down all the time. If the fur is left long, it can become matted and full of painful debris.
Pads do crack and bleed if they get too dry. Don’t use human lotion on the dogs pads, it may soften pads too much and lead to more issues. Instead look into pad moisturizers specifically designed for a dog’s dried out paws. While rubbing in the lotion give the dog a paw massage by rubbing between the pads and up in between each toe.
Dogs paws feel heat as much as human’s do on the bottom of their feet, keep this in mind while out walking during the heat of the summer. The pads are susceptible to blisters and burns, I know a lab who once had her entire pad surface burned. She was a black lab, with three black padded paws and one pink one as it healed. It took a very long time and was a very painful process to the poor pup. If you take your dog out walking during the summer heat, check the pavement first, use the back of your hand if it feels hot too the touch stick to the shade or go for a walk in the trails that day.
If your dog does get burnt or blistered pads, wash with an antibacterial soap and wrap loosely with a gauze. Wait until the paw heals before walking again on rough or hot terrain.
During the long cold winter months is lots of people use salt, de-icers and other items to melt ice off of sidewalks. Not only can these be toxic to dogs who lick their paws (there re some dog-safe versions) it also dries out the pads which can lead to cracks and open sores.
Another reason why keeping the paw feathers trimmed close to the paw is that when walking on snow and ice, this can get stuck and clumped up on the feathers which leads to painful frost bite between their toes.
When coming home from a daily walk during the winter, either wipe down or rinse the paws with warm water to wash away and of the salt or chemicals they may have picked up. And as preventative measures, before going out for a walk, apply Vaseline to the dog’s paw pad, this keeps salt from getting and sticking on the pads. Another option is wrestling the dog into canine snow boots, which of course is hilarious but provided excellent protection.
Cuts and scrapes
Occasionally dogs will cut the pad of their paw and require some first aid. George is notorious for somehow ending up with a slice or chunk taken out of his pads, he seems to be a magnet to the unknown. Often times I don’t notice till I get back to the car and he’s been trailing blood.
Thankfully I have a first aid kit in the trunk which has been used several time to patch him up. Make sure you clean the cut with antibacterial wash, put anti bacterial cream then bandage up the paw. I tend to wrap the paw in gauze, then put a sock on it. George is so use to having his paw’s tended to he leaves the sock alone.